Football is finally here. With two games to be played in less than a week, it’s time for the PAC 12 Blog to roll out the weekly features. Win projections are generated using G.A.W.P. (learn more here), and then those projections and old-fashioned analysis are combined to rank the teams for bowl games.
The South division is tidy at the top at a hot mess everywhere else. Five teams have at least a 60% chance of winding up with records between 5-7 and 7-5, and they all play each other (which has career-altering implications for three coaches in particular). USC is the team to beat, and the only one with a genuine shot at a playoff-caliber record. It’s early yet, though- that could change.
In the North, there’s a bit more gradation. Washington is the class of league, Stanford is a contender. Oregon and WSU look to play spoiler and maybe have an outside shot at the division crown. Cal and Oregon State are going to struggle to pick up wins in conference.
There are two main story lines in the preseason bowl projections-
First, the PAC 12 doesn’t have a guaranteed NY6 bowl spot. The Rose Bowl is in the CFP rotation this season, and it’s possible that the PAC 12 could have to settle for an at-large bid in a less prestigious bowl.
Second, one, two, or all three of the bottom few teams will fall out of the running in the first few weeks of the season. The squabble at the bottom for at large bid spots is because those three teams should be bad, not good.
Key Games This Week
Oregon State Beavers @ Colorado State Rams
Saturday, Aug. 26 at 11:30 Pacific/12:30 Mountain
CBS Sports Network
There are only two games this Saturday, so not much will change from this week to next. However, Oregon State’s match against Colorado State figures to be a crucial game in the Beaver’s slim hope at a bowl game. OSU hasn’t been to a bowl since 2013. G.A.W.P. has them at about 45% to win this one- if that coin comes up orange and black, the Beavs will have taken a big step towards bowl eligibility.